TIGA, the network for games developers and digital publishers and the trade association representing the video games industry, has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, outlining how investment in the video games industry can support substantial job creation and bolster existing employment.
Recent TIGA research has shown that there has been record levels of growth in the video games sector in recent years. Between November 2018 and April 2020:
- the number of creative staff in studios surged by an annualised rate of 12.2 per cent from 14,353 to 16,836 full-time and full-time equivalent staff;
- the total games development workforce, including contractors, grew from 16,532 to 18,279, a record high;
- the number of jobs indirectly supported by studios rose from 26,241 to 30,781.
To support and enhance these trends, TIGA has also called on the Government to:
- Enhance Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR): The Government should increase the rate of the Relief from 25 per cent to 32 per cent of core expenditure.
- Introduce a Video Games Investment Fund (VGIF): This would enhance studios’ access to finance, promote the development of original IP and encourage studio growth. The VGIF could provide funding of between £75,000 and £500,000 to games developers nationwide.
- Retain and strengthen the UK Games Fund: The Government should consider enhancing the UK Games Fund. Which, at present, provides prototype funding worth up to £25,000.
- Invest in skills, training and higher education: The Government could consider transforming the existing Apprenticeship Levy into a more general training levy, allowing employers to choose the right training programme to benefit their employees and their businesses.
- Devise a strategy to address long-term economic weaknesses: Estimates based on ONS data show that UK productivity is among the lowest of the G7 countries and investment in the UK is the lowest in the G7. The Government could create an internationally competitive tax regime which specifically supports key sectors, by fostering an environment conducive to business investment by encouraging private investment in technology and skills through tax allowances, and by boosting infrastructure spend and programmes to achieve the fastest broadband network in the G7. Analysis of data from 2019 shows that the UK ranked 34th out of 207 countries for average download speed with an average of 22.37Mbps, well behind the fastest in the G7, Japan, with 42.77Mbps.
Dr Richard Wilson OBE, TIGA CEO, said:
“The video games industry continues to grow at record levels and demonstrate strong job growth. The sector provides high skilled employment: over 80 per cent of the development workforce is qualified to degree level or above. The industry supports economic growth in clusters throughout the UK: 80 per cent of the workforce is based outside of London. Furthermore, the video games industry is relatively resilient to Coronavirus engendered lockdowns: games development is a digital sector and work can be undertaken and delivered remotely. As the UK faces a period of economic challenge and uncertainty, as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the Government should promote the sector to foster and encourage further growth and job creation.”